Saturday, August 29, 2015

Can civil rights groups and public educators both be right? And what if Dyett became a model?

The battle between those who support common core and those who don't is fundamentally based on the way education has been for the past 200 years.  There are concerns about local control vs federal control of education. 

A case for federal involvement goes back to Brown vs Board of Education as there must be oversight to allow fair treatment of all students especially those who have been denied equal education in the past.

A case for those against common core is that a singular standardized test is not an adequate way to assess kids as it does not indicate real achievement, falsely determining whether teacher are teaching and learners are learning.

Both have valid points and both must be taken seriously.  Let's first explore the impact on students forced to a standardizing mentality.  It is clear that obstacles in the way of learning exist with many of those in poverty and that especially affects their ability to take tests in a group setting, regurgitate answers given to them and see complex issues as having simple answers. 

The reality is that the test, as the outcome demanded, drives the curriculum.  And here is how it does damage: Children in the burbs, who have less obstacles in their way do better on the standardized test, are more at ease taking it in large groups and are more adept at seeing simple answers to complex questions as well as giving answers that satisfy the requirements of the artificial norm.  Thus they are able to spend less time studying for the test and more time with innovative learning. Creative learning such as the arts, and hands on activities as well as broad experiences in the community are more readily available ,

However, in urban areas where success at the test is limited, the scope becomes narrow.  The arts, physical education, hands on activities like shop and home economics as well as innovative activities in the classroom are lessened or even eliminated.  The end result is that those children are forced to learn in the way that they are least capable before they are allowed to learn in the way they are most capable.  This is not only unethical, it is immoral!

Now we explore the concerns on those civil rights organizations that are focused on fairness and equity in education.  It is clear going back to "Brown vs Board of education" that the lack of fairness is an issue and must always be monitored.  To go back to a day when education was thrown out for students to catch in a bushel basket does a dis service to those who need us the most.  Look what it is doing to voters rights.  It is unimaginable to take education back to that era. However, the question becomes, does the test really determine achievement?  Dr. Angela Dye digs deeply into this when she states "traditional school outcomes as level "B" achievement can occur in the absence of learning how to work and learn independently; {A-level learning includes} learning how to synthesize, transfer and apply knowledge to the world beyond the classroom;  learning how to value self as subjects and not as objects; and learning how to engage in and share power in democratic spaces". 

Therein lies the crux of the argument.  And here is how both are right in the best interest of students. Whole child assessment may soon be allowed to drive the curriculum as the rewrite of ESEA includes the Collins - Sanders amendment.  That amendment allows innovative assessment away from the test that gives a more accurate picture of what children are learning and how useful it can be to their future beyond the classroom.  The definitions around this amendment can be read at

This is not a "be all and end all" for education but it is a big step forward.  Although assessment must be local, over sight will be at the state and federal level assuring all students are treated fairly.  Thus satisfying the needs of both communities and more importantly the needs of children.We still have to take an individualized approach to assessment and education.  Children still learn at different rates and their genius will unfold at different times, not on a common core schedule.  But the beginning of an educational revolution is at hand.  A revolution that puts the agenda of children in the forefront. 

And what if Illinois was one of the 5 states that was allowed to implement that model; and what if Dyett School would be the model for that amendment; and what if Duane Turner were to be the principal?  Just sayin'

Empower parents, empower students teachers take back your profession

Or New Orleans?  or Detroit?

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